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DOT under fire for oil train rules

Too many Americans in line of fire, advocacy groups say.

By Daniel J. Graeber

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Advocacy groups said they filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation for not responding to calls to pull crude oil rail cars out of service.

The Department of Transportation in July published a 200-page proposal calling for the eventual elimination of older rail cars designated DOT 111 used to ship flammable liquids, "including most Bakken crude oil."

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The increase in U.S. crude oil production is more than the existing network of pipelines can handle and industry officials say rail is the primary alternative transit method.

DOT-111 rail cars carrying crude oil have been involved in a series of disastrous derailments, including the deadly incident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec in 2013.

Earthjustice, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation for not responding to a petition filed in July calling for a ban on shipping Bakken crude using DOT-111 cars.

Matt Krogh, campaign director with ForestEthics, said DOT-111 cars are "tin cans on wheels."

"We can't run the risk of another disaster like Lac-Megantic," Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman said in a statement Thursday.

U.S. regulators in January issued an advisory warning Bakken crude oil may be more prone to catch fire than other grades.

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The North Dakota Petroleum Council in May published a study saying crude oil taken from the Bakken reserve area does not, as the U.S. Department of Transportation suggests, pose a greater risk when transported by rail.

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